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UK users spending more time online...

According to the survey data 86.6% of internet users now spend 6 hours or more online a week when they are at home, up from 83% at the end of 2006 and 50% at the end of 2005. Perhaps most eye wateringly almost 5% of respondents claimed to spend more than 80 hours a week surfing from home.

This can take many forms.

If we look at broadband users (as opposed to all internet users) more than 16% of UK subscribers are watching live TV or streaming video, over 40% are downloading music, over two thirds are visiting eBay or other auction sites and over 90% are sending emails. These however are not significantly different patterns to the survey in late 2006. While absolute numbers may have increased so has the user base.

...but not more money

Probably the most notable change is in shopping online. In late 2006 just under 65% of respondents said they had purchased from an online store, by June 2007 this had increased to 70%.

According to our analysis however, when we quizzed users about their weekly spend, the overall average amount actually dropped comparing the end of 2006 to the middle of 2007. This was matched with a percentage increase in user spending at the lower end of the scale (£1-£20/week).

“We believe the shift has a number of causes,” says Dr Katja Mueller, Research Director at Point Topic. "One is that the fastest growing groups of online users are now at the lower end of the income scale and this is reflected directly in the amounts being spent online. Another is that people are increasingly using the internet to buy smaller items.”

“Not least there are seasonal effects. Consumer Survey 3 was conducted in the run up to Christmas and Consumer Survey 4 in early summer, a relatively quiet time for retailers,” concludes Dr Mueller.

*Consumer Survey 4: Internet survey: June 2007 was conducted by YouGov, querying over 4,000 household respondents in an online survey throughout GB (excluding Northern Ireland), using about 60 questions. It is an online survey which requires households to have internet access at home

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.